The Hazards of a National Geographic Photographer...

Reality Check

This page is dedicated to Wes Skiles who died doing the work he loved. Sadie Quarrier, senior photo editor, National Geographic Magazine says:   “I was lucky enough to work with Wes as his photo editor on (his) “Bahamas Blue Holes” story for NGM. He was deeply passionate about diving, exploring, photographing and protecting the waterways… Wes was big-hearted and humble yet extremely driven. He was doggedly determined to produce the best possible article on these caves he called home. He dared to dream big, and no budget or contract would stop him from going after a shot he felt we needed, even if it was on his own dime…”

There have been other deaths over the years and many serious injuries. The posts below are recent survey responses from 45 photographers about some of the hazards encountered while on assignment for the National Geographic Society. The numbers represent individual incidents.

It's a Glamorous Life

  • 1

    Held at Knifepoint

  • 1

    Stabbed

  • 3

    Beaten

  • 19

    Severe Dehydration

  • 2

    Assault by Florida panther. 2 photographers, 2 assignments, same panther.

  • 2

    Teargassed

  • 5

    Robbed

  • 1

    Meningitis

  • 3

    Trips into Chernobyl Reactor

  • 7

    Car or Bus Crash

  • 2

    Buried in Avalanche

  • 1

    Acid Dripping Caves

  • 1

    Blinded by Wasps

  • 8

    Assorted Animal Attacks

  • 5

    Plane or Helicopter Crash

  • 3

    Extreme Toxins

  • 16

    Various Parasites

  • 21

    Threatened / Detained / Abducted

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Ocean

  • 1

    Land on Rock Ledge After 90 Foot Fall

  • 1

    Strongyloide Invasion

  • 4

    Burns

  • 13

    Robbed

  • 1

    Attack by 9,000 pound Elephant Seal

  • 3

    Imprisoned

  • 13

    Run Checkpoint

  • 1

    Hotel Surrounded by Rebels

  • 9

    Groped

  • 4

    Broken Bones

  • 6

    Random Assault

  • 21

    Paraglider Crash

  • 2

    Lost in Andes

  • 9

    Hypothermia

  • 2

    Temporary Blindness

  • 2

    Seat Belt Releases with Helicopter Tipped Over Volcano

  • 20

    Amoebic Dysentery

  • 33

    Arrest or House Arrest

  • 1

    Viper in Camera Bag

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing on Sea Ice

  • 1

    Spitting Cobra Attacks

  • 8

    Giardia

  • 6

    Broken Ribs

  • 2

    Held at Gunpoint

  • 1

    Lost on Arctic Ice

  • 1

    Dengue Fever

  • 12

    Severe Insect Problems

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Oil Rig

  • 3

    Chased by Wild Elephant

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Sea Ice

  • 1

    Diagnosed PTSD

  • 1

    Streaming Blood While Hanging from Harness at 1500 feet

  • 1

    Flesh Eating Parasites

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Tree

  • 1

    Chased by Crocodile

  • 1

    Broken Tail Bone

  • 2

    Fall Into Crevasse

  • 2

    Stoned by Religious Group

  • 10

    Rope Burn

  • 30

    Wound Infection

  • 12

    Falls

  • 29

    Frostbite (23 for one photographer)

  • 2

    Broken Nose

  • 1

    Penis Fish

  • 9

    Venomous Bites

  • 1

    Hunted with Bows and Arrows

  • 1

    Bit by Ticks (in my penis)

  • 1

    Lost at Sea

  • 7

    Dislocations

  • 2

    Groped

  • 4

    Tear Gassed

  • 1

    Punched in Face

  • 1

    Scaffolding Collapse

  • 1

    Loa-Loa Worm in Eye

  • 5

    Malaria

  • 90

    Severe Diarrhea